What is the legal definition of sexual abuse?

Many activities can be considered sexual abuse.  Sexual abuse includes activities by a parent, caregiver, or other individual such as fondling a child's genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials. 

Under the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), (42 U.S.C.A. §5106g),  sexual abuse is defined as "the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or the rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children." 

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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